"Call it cross-pollination. Diego Marulanda brought the music of his native Colombia to his new home in Canada, played by people new to the style. He’s got jazz horns, a classical flutist, a West Indian singer who had to learn Spanish - it all fits, in ways you couldn’t imagine. "La Cumbia" starts with bold sax; the phrase is ended by a trumpet, and in come the shakers. Diego’s guitar has a springy pulse, and Lisa Lindo shouts with fervor. (This is a second language? You’ll never know from hearing her.) Now Diego takes the mike: a tender voice, full of romantic trills. "Pero Ella Se Va" is whispered in your ear, while "La Noche" blasts off, with Diego and Lisa soaring together. Shameema Soni adds bluesy piano, a flute hits the ceiling, and the fury never lets up. Good.
This group has the classic Latin sound - with a few subtle differences. The percussion is light and steady, without the polyrhythms often heard in Cuban music. Horns get block arrangements, each playing the same note. And on most tunes the horns are decoration; it’s all centered on that wonderful beat. The drums wrap Diego on "Canto El Corazon"; slowly it builds, from guitar to handclaps to rambunctious trombone. Lisa goes wild on "Sancocho ’E Mapale": her whoops are joyous, and the flute can barely keep up. The guitar sounds like Charlie Byrd at the start of "Amigo" - then we get his best vocal. "Yabita" has a gorgeous chart (check the subtle piano) and, on the closing "La Alegria", Diego fandangos into the sunset. We’ve had a glorious time... I didn’t know Canada could get this hot!"
John Barrett - JazzUSA - August 2000
"The burgeoning Latin music scene in Canada takes another step forward with the release of La Verraquera! from Diego Marulanda & Pacande. The title comes from Colombian slang for "absolutely amazing," an apt tag for this warmly accessible disc. Guitarist/vocalist Marulanda’s songs skilfully integrate Afro-percussion sounds and native and Spanish elements."
"...the sounds of Colombia’s Atlantic coast are brought vigorously to life here by Diego Marulanda, who sings, plays guitar and percussion, wrote all the music and lyrics for 10 songs and generally dominates the other eight musicians of Pacande, never mind the crush of guests. Vocalists Lisa Lindo and Shameema Soni get some solo room on this Toronto recording that employs hot traditional rhythms such as cumbia, son and cumbron."
"Some of the best Colombian rhythms are brewed right there in Toronto. Diego Marulanda’s debut album, La Verraquera! is a beautiful example of this intoxicating import. The Bogota-born Marulanda and his band Pacande combine traditional Colombian coastal rhythms with Afro-percussive ingredients to distill sweet, unadulterated sound. That tantalizing hint of Spanish flamenco, now and again complemented by the throaty horns, places this album alongside some of the best ever to come from Latin America."
Opiyo Oloya - The Word
"A Toronto-based nine-piece ensemble that plays upbeat, percussion-driven Colombian music. It sounds traditional, yet all songs written by leader Diego Marulanda. Irresistibly danceable rhythms: cumbia, son, bullerenge, mapale, fandango."
Tony Montague - The Georgia Straight
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